PhD Studentship: Rational design of nanoMOFs for drug delivery and bioimaging

Reference: NQ02347

Closing date: 31 December 2013

We are currently recruiting an outstanding PhD candidate for a scholarship from the Armstrong Trust Fund. The project involves in vitro and possibly in vivo studies of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) as drug delivery systems for cancer therapy in collaborative research between the Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology (CEB), University of Cambridge, and the Cancer Research UK – Cambridge Institute, under the supervision of Dr. David Fairen-Jimenez and Prof. Duncan Jodrell.

The study of the mechanisms that control drug delivery in porous systems is of critical importance in medicine, where nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionise cancer diagnosis and therapy. Indeed, a fundamental, yet unresolved, problem in many therapies including cancer treatment resides in the fact that many drugs used routinely are associated with high concentrations within the first minutes followed by rapid clearance, making it difficult to sustain relevant concentrations over the subsequent hours. The efficient delivery of a drug to a designated target cell is also a challenging bioengineering problem, which benefits extend not only to cancer treatment, but also to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

MOFs, one of the most exciting developments in recent porous materials science, have been proposed for drug delivery. Biocompatible nanoMOFs are suitable for the transport and controlled delivery of a large number of therapeutic agents, showing extremely high drug capacity and very long release times. Therapeutic agents include not only traditional antitumour drugs, but also novel treatments based on specific biomolecules, opening new paths for cancer treatment. The basic questions of this project include: Can we use porous MOFs for drug delivery? How do the different structures affect their performance? Is it possible to modify these materials to enhance their selectivity for tumour cells?

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The ideal candidate will have a 1st class degree or equivalent in chemical engineering, pharmacy, biotechnology or a related scientific or medical discipline, experience in cross-disciplinary work, excellent laboratory skills and a hands-on approach to problem solving. This is a multidisciplinary project and the successful candidate will benefit from an extensive peer-group of researchers, as well as acquiring skills at the interface between chemical engineering, biotechnology and life sciences, that are in high demand in both industry and academia.

The studentship is dependent on confirmation of funding by the Armstrong Trust Fund. Due to deadlines at CEB, it is only available to UK and EU students. The financial support comprises approved College and University fees and maintenance at the standard EPSRC rate, together with any fee approved by the Managers for training.

More information can be found at: and Information about the W D Armstrong Trust Fund can be found at:

For further information on this project, please contact Dr David Fairen-Jimenez: [email protected] Please do not send applications directly to Dr D Fairen-Jimenez.

The successful candidate will be expected to formally apply for admission as a PhD student and meet any conditions of admission set by the University. More information can be found at:

For information regarding eligibility and application information, please see

To apply for the studentship, please send, via email, to Mrs. Amanda Taylor at [email protected] before 17:00 GMT on 31 December 2013.

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